Safe Finances Online (part 3): Passable Passwords

Password protection is not an unbeatable system when it comes to Internet security, but it’s extremely common. Oftentimes it’s the only barrier between your sensitive data and the outside world.

Think of your online passwords like locks. The more elaborate the lock, the harder it will be to crack it.

Here’s how password cracking works, so you know what you’re up against: A hacker runs a program that tries thousands of passwords for logging into a website. Sometimes sites have security measures to prevent this, but others don’t.

The cracking program uses words from the dictionary, proper nouns, and potentially any common phrase. It will try combinations of numbers, and lower and upper cases.

So a strong password is one that is not easily accessible, i.e. would not be a likely Google search.

A very strong password: 5h#oo97Bs%152mU0s&3H”k

Notice how long this password is: over 14 characters. That is considered a good length for a tough password.

Notice too how it is a combo of lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols. There is no recognizable phrase or pattern.

But this password is tough to remember. One this tough is perfect for say, your bank. But for your email or Facebook account, you might want one that flows easier.

A medium-strong password: t3xh()Ma898989^

Perhaps you like the name of the town “Texhoma”, so you mutate that into the first component. Then you repeat some digits before adding an extra symbol.

Note that you shouldn’t use a word that has a personal connection (as if you were from Texhoma). Even if it’s mutated, it still shouldn’t be a short or common word (like “Fr33” or “1nT3rN3t”)

What to avoid. Avoid any phrases related to your personal life—your name, your address, your pet (which is very common), or your interests.

Avoid obvious combinations of anything: “abc123”, “qwertyuiop” “money$$$”.

And never use the password “password”. It is believed to be the most common password on the Internet, and thus the easiest cracked.

Need help? Microsoft offers a password checker for determining strength. However, the checker looks at form rather than content, so it can’t tell if you’re using words from your life.

Alexander Carl

Alexander Carl

I find it difficult to brag about myself. Too modest? Perhaps.

Anyway: my name is Alexander Carl. I am a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I spent four blissful years earning a degree in Communication Studies. Now I face the real world of economic downturns, student loans, and the absence of “academic” camaraderie.

Yet I refuse to be bummed. My economic philosophy is to live simply, save, and maximize whatever I can. Consumer culture is undeniably pervasive, but you don’t have to sell your soul to co-exist with it— there is great power from using your economic resources wisely.

I started writing when I figured out how to hold a pencil. Since then I’ve written short stories, poetry, screenplays, and have blogged. In fact, three of my screenplays have been produced into short films, two of which I directed. I’m no stranger to the media, having served as a DJ at a freeform radio station and worked as a crew member for live TV.

Pastimes include traveling (I’ll visit virtually anywhere), swimming, jogging, hiking, and hunkering down with a good movie.

Overall I’m a peaceful person, though not in a creepy New Agey way. I get my energy from music, good conversation, and the outdoors (I was an active Boy Scout, earning my Eagle). I consider myself “inquisitive” and “wry”, and for the sake of autobiography I’ll assume that I am.
Alexander Carl

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